Back to blog

Becoming a B Corp Design Agency: Join us on our Journey

29th Mar 2023

If you’ve been following us for a while, you might have sensed some changes recently. In the last couple of years we’ve been slowly working behind-the-scenes to make some pretty big changes within Martin Hopkins, to make our business reflect who we are today and the team we’re so incredibly lucky to have. We’ve been implementing various things to foster an environment within MH that focuses on our environmental impact, the wellbeing of our team and our engagement with local communities.

All of this has started us on a very exciting journey towards becoming a B Corp company! We’re thrilled to sharing the ongoing story of our application and the process, and we hope we can encourage other businesses to consider making the switch too!

Before we get started, let’s just review what a B-Corp is:

“B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. In order to achieve certification, a company must:

  • Demonstrate high social and environmental performance by achieving a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and passing our risk review. Multinational corporations must also meet baseline requirement standards.
  • Make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just shareholders, and achieve benefit corporation status if available in their jurisdiction.
  • Exhibit transparency by allowing information about their performance measured against B Lab’s standards to be publicly available on their B Corp profile on B Lab’s website.”

Why are we becoming a B Corp?

First and foremost, becoming a B Corp company aligns perfectly with our values of improving sustainability and actively working to reduce our carbon footprint. We’re in a period of growth for the company, so it felt like there was no better time to start the process of becoming a B Corp, to ensure this growth is sustainable. Our whole team believes that it’s important to not only consider our impact on the environment but also the well-being of future generations. This is why we fully support the Wellbeing of Future Generations act, which allows us to think ahead with not just sustainability in mind but also the wellbeing of those living in our world after us.

As we’ve mentioned before (and will definitely mention again) wellbeing means a lot to us, and we support our team in various ways, including organising fun and creative away days, paid-for wellbeing days for those ‘off days’ and a Headspace subscription, as well as just trying to be empathetic and kind to each other (read more about our Agency Culture here!). As a family-run agency, we take our team’s wellbeing personally and to heart. But with the B Corp process, it goes that little bit further and adds another level by allowing us to make much more conscious choices both in the business and in design and outputs from the agency. This applies to inclusivity, equity, sustainability, and so much more than just the climate change discussion.

What we’ve learnt (and are still learning!)

We believe that there is so much to learn on this topic, and it’s something we really want to develop a better understanding of, and are actively seeking out ways to continue to educate ourselves on all the issues that fall under the B Corp umbrella. Previously, the long-term effects of small decisions didn’t feel as consequential as they do now – it’s been fascinating to learn about this and has made us reflect on our processes, and that of our clients, to reflect what we’ve learnt.

A small example of a change, or a shift in mindset, would be sustainability in web design, or colour use in brand designs & print and reducing waste. In our business, the difference between choosing a local supplier or a global supplier can be immense for our global impact. We’re also actively ensuring we’re being as inclusive wherever possible.

So, what’s actually the process to become a B Corp?

To become a B Corp, we have to undergo a rigorous assessment process that evaluates our performance across six categories: governance, workers, community, environment, customers, and disclosure.

No, those words didn’t mean much to us either… Let’s break down those categories to see what’s being assessed:

  • Governance: Looks at how a company is run, including their accountability and transparency.
  • Workers: Assesses employee treatment and welfare.
  • Community: Examines a company’s engagement with local communities.
  • Environment: Evaluates a company’s impact on the natural world.
  • Customers: Looks at the company’s treatment of its customers.
  • Disclosure: Focuses on a company’s transparency and accountability to the public.

A big misconception is that B Corp is only about sustainability and the environment – it’s what we first thought before we started researching it! Subsequently, for us, it’s become something much bigger than that. Becoming a B Corp impacts so many things, such as those mentioned before – it’s about contributing to our employees’ financial, physical, professional, and social wellbeing, something which is deeply important to us and is at the core of Martin Hopkins. It’s also making us think about how we can support our local communities and the economy within, ethics, transparency and accountability, the environment, the suppliers we support.

Despite its cost and time undertaking, the benefits could be huge both internally and externally to our team and the wider communities we work with. We want our whole studio to feel proud of the work Martin Hopkins does both in processes as a business and within the team, and for our clients. It’s going to be a long road and it won’t happen overnight (expect a few updates throughout 2023!) – but those small impactful changes excite us, and we are looking forward to how it will help us evolve.

Making Conscious Choices

As a family-run Graphic Design Agency, we are lucky enough to work on larger contracts and have influence in Wales. We believe that our role as a business is not only to use our skills to create beautiful designs but to also make a positive impact in our community and environment. Becoming a B Corp will allow us to make more conscious choices about the projects we take on and the clients we work with and channel our creativity into designing for good.

During a quiet moment (a rarity around here!) we sat down with our directors to ask them what B Corp means to them, and why they’ve chosen to go on this journey:

“B Corp has been something we have wanted to strive for a long time. Our agency has changed so much over the years, and something we pride ourselves on is never being the finished article. We are constantly looking for chances to evolve and better ourselves, and to make a better impact on our team, our community, and the wider environment. Mental health and wellbeing are values I hold very close to me, as well as the importance of our local environment (everyone knows I love a good tree!) and community. Personally, this means a great deal to me, and I really hope that it can influence real positive change for the team, and the planet too. We have always been a very honest and open, friendly agency and have never really fit into the status quo of a typical agency structure, and I think that is what makes B Corp feel like a fitting next step for us.”

Sarah Hickman, Co-Director

“For us as an agency, everything is about forward progression in everything that we do, and B Corp is no different. We look to be better at each step, with a minds-eye on the future, and how we can transform the way we operate. As a business, we care deeply about the creative outputs, but we also strive to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Being a B corporation is a positive for us and our clients alike.”

James Martin, Co-Director

Keep Your Eyes Peeled 👀

Whilst we may be early on in the long journey towards becoming a B Corp, we are incredibly excited about it. It’s a challenging process, but we believe it’s completely worth it. By becoming a B Corp, we can make more conscious choices and have a greater positive impact on our community, environment, and economy. So, make sure to keep up with our updates, which we’ll be sharing regularly on LinkedIn and Instagram, to see how we’re getting along with the B-Corp journey!

Written by Alice-Rae Pringle
Digital Content Manager